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Austin Daye’s weight loss in Russia might be a big reason for brutal season

WASHINGTON – Austin Daye said, if he could do it again, he probably wouldn’t have played in Russia during the NBA lockout.

At the time, it made plenty of sense. There was no guarantee the NBA would have a season, and the money was good.

But Daye ran into a difficulty he never anticipated.

“Things just tasted kind of weird,” Daye said. “… Even fast food tasted different.”

His teammates helped when they could, and Daye found some Chinese-like dishes with chicken and rice that he could handle. But the process wasn’t easy.

“I was on my own,” Daye said. “I was definitely on my own.”

Then, when he caught a “flu bug” that caused an upset stomach for two to three weeks shortly after returning.

In all, he lost about 10 pounds and dropped to 200 pounds. It wasn’t until between 1.5 and 2 months ago that Daye returned to where he started.

“I don’t think it’s an excuse,” Daye said. “It’s not hindering my whole game. It’s just hindering parts of it.”

Daye specifically cited finishing inside and post defense as the area that gave him the most trouble while his weight was down.

“I’m always able to hold my own in the post,” Daye said. “Not too many guys post me up, because I’m pretty crafty down there.”

The numbers back him up. Daye allowed .76 points per post up last season, according to MySynergySports, easily his best defensive play. That’s up to .78 this year, but with just nine plays, that’s hardly a reliable sample.

Daye’s field-goal percentage at the rim (58) ranks between his first two seasons, but he’s taking just 16 percent of his shots at the rim – well below his rookie (26) and sophomore (21) years.

And that gets to the big letdown: Daye’s mental game. For most of the season, he didn’t feel strong, and it showed.

I don’t know whether Daye has a future as an NBA rotation player. Although e showed positive signs during his first two seasons, he never proved himself as capable, and he’s completely regressed this year.

But here’s the good news: Daye will never play in Russia before an NBA season again. This situation was unique, and although it basically sabotaged his season, it won’t be repeated.

It’s disappointing Daye wasted so much time just getting back to square one physically when he could have been progressing, but what can you do?

I’m willing to call Daye’s season a wash and see what he can do next year.


  • Mar 27, 20122:55 pm
    by Max


    I made this speculation weeks ago and have been throwing in comments about Daye needing to eat all season so it was kind of funny to me when Dumars actually made my comment regarding the idea of trading him by saying and I’m paraphrasing, “You don’t trade a kid like that…..you get him to eat”.   Anyway, it’s true that Daye should be using each summer to try and gain weight since it’s so difficult to do so during an NBA season.  Actually losing weight last summer was a disaster.

  • Mar 27, 20124:05 pm
    by Mark


    I’ve read that its hard for players to gain weight during the season because they are always playing, so whatever they put on they take off right away.

    Considering Daye has not played much at all this year, it would seem like this would’ve been a great opportunity for him to bulk up while sitting out games. But it doesnt appear like he’s gained any weight this season sitting out.

    On the Russia thing, you would think for a player who knows his entire career hinges on gaining weight, that he would’ve made food the #1 priority for any place he chose to live/play over the summer.

    Just seems like poor planning on his part, and makes you wonder how bright the kid is. The only thing he had to do last summer was eat, and he chose to move to a foreign country without testing the food first.

    He makes a multi-million dollar salary. He couldnt afford to have weekly meals shipped to him from the US? Considering his career hinges on eating, would seem to have been a wise investment.

  • [...] Did a stomach bug in Russia contribute to Austin Daye’s lost season in Detroit? Share [...]

  • Mar 27, 20124:18 pm
    by tzad


    Man, I’m not even Russian, but I get angry at people calling food in general bad. It’s not that I like every type of food, but still. Daye was playing for Khimki which is based in the suburbs of Moscow. If you can’t find food you can eat in the Moscow region, you have to look in the mirror.

    • Mar 27, 20124:22 pm
      by dvs


      Unless you’re in a crazy rural place, you can always food. All he had to do was cook basic food. It’s really not hard. He needs to grow up.
      I hope he has a big offseason and produces next season. He’s got so much talent, it’s just up to him to work hard.

      • Mar 27, 20124:30 pm
        by Max


        The food issue is one thing but being away from the Pistons trainers and playing too many games for Russia probably contributed more to his losing weight than the absence of food and I’m guessing the trainers would have had him on a prescribed regimen of diet and exercise with the goal of making him gain weight.   Skipping that process for a summer in his tenuous position was probably more harmful than anything and going to Russia to play only exacerbated his problems.

        • Mar 27, 20125:16 pm
          by dvs


          He can still keep up his exercise regime and diet. It’s not that hard.
          It’s really not that hard. He’s professional athlete. that’s his life

  • Mar 27, 20124:56 pm
    by MNM


    I think I’ve read 2 articles a year since he was drafted (1 from the freep and 1 from detnews) mentioning that “the goal for Austin Daye this offseason is to put on weight.” Usually 1 paper covers the preseason and the other covers postseason. Austin Daye has been here for 3 years now..So the problem is Austin and the organization for not making sure that he was doing this. The fact that he managed to actually LOSE weight is rediculous (I didn’t think he had any weight to lose)..and the fact that he makes Tayshaun look like Biggie Smalls is insane.

    • Mar 28, 201212:25 am
      by Max


      The organization and Daye were cut off from each other during the lockout.  If a trainer had taken Daye’s suicidal call for help, the league would have imposed a million dollar fine or worse.

      • Mar 28, 20127:53 pm
        by MNM


        Im talking about before the lockout. The couple of years he was here before that happened.

  • Mar 27, 20126:20 pm
    by Bob Hope


    Now is the time to let Daye clock some major minutes. Theyre 15 games under five hundred and I highly doubt the playoffs are in their near future. Though I still love this team, I would love them alot more with Anthony Davis lined up next to Greg Monroe and a bulkier Austin Daye in the front court with Stuckey and Knight switching between the 1 and 2. Also, find a home for Charlie V and Will Bynum. Its pointless keeping them on the roster and it’s bad enough paying Ben Gordon starter salary to come off the bench. This draft will be the make or break draft of Dumars executive career. If he can some how land Anthony Davis and steal another Mehmet Okur type in the early second round, the Pistons have the ability to be a 6-8 seed playoff contender by ’13-’14

    • Mar 27, 20127:01 pm
      by MNM


      Continuing to win games with the veterans is making it less and less likely that Detroit will get the 1st pick/Anthonly Davis.  They are closer to being like the Pacers. Which is “just good enough to be bad” but not bad enough. They are stuck in that wierd middle ground area, where they find themselves continuously in the bottom of the lottery. Yea, they have Danny Granger, but lets be honest, he’s nice, but…you get where Im going…The Pacers are good enough now to be in the bottom of the playoff pool, but they don’t have “THE guy” who can help them make much of a dent in the post season. The Pistons can’t keep relying to have good players fall to them in the later lottery positions. At some point they gotta get higher than 7th..

      • Mar 27, 20127:35 pm
        by Youssif


        Wait, the Pacers are bad? Last I checked, they’re top 5 in the East with a promising young core that’s going to continue developing.

        I think the Warriors are a better example: forever stuck in mediocrity, never bad enough to get a top pick, never good enough to make the playoffs.

        Living in SF, I can tell you that from all my friends who are Warriors fans (“You’re welcome for Greg Monroe”), its basketball fan hell. Their experience alone is the sole reason I slam my head against the wall every time I see the Pistons squeaking out a win.

        • Mar 27, 20127:53 pm
          by MNM


          The Pacers WERE bad, obviously it’s a different story today. I was speaking in the past tense with the Pacers. Even still, they wont do anything as the 5th seed even if they hang on to it. They wont do much against Chicago, and the Miamis of the east. They just don’t have enough.  I agree with your warriors point. We could name a few teams that could be that example. Monroe is nice, but we need a “Anthony Davis type” (someone who is more athletic and can defend and score with more ease). Greg is a nice piece, but he needs a lot of help.  The bigger reason the Pistons are “squeaking out wins”, is more because of the veterans playing key minutes who are not in the teams long term plans, when they SHOULD be playing Austin Daye more, Vernin Macklin (recently sent down to the D-League) along with Knight and Monroe.

  • Mar 27, 201210:12 pm
    by Piston from Melbourne


    “My dog ate my homework” that’s why I can’t play basketball.

    Give up on him, his a flack.

  • Mar 27, 201211:00 pm
    by inigo montoya


    Going to Russia probably contributed a lot to Daye losing, not just weight, but maybe even more importantly, his confidence.  

    He did not even play that many minutes for Khimki, and combined with the fact that Singler, a competitor for Daye’s position, started out well in Spain, probably did not help his confidence at all.

  • Mar 27, 201211:42 pm
    by Jon Young


    “I’m always able to hold my own in the post,” Daye said. “Not too many guys post me up, because I’m pretty crafty down there.”
    Does Austin really believe he could hold his own in the post before losing weight. He always got banged playing the four. That’s why he moved to the wing. Where he was to slow. Interesting he thinks that.

    • Mar 28, 201212:08 am
      by oats


      I assumed he meant he held his own in the post against other wing players, sort of like how Prince holds his own in the post.

  • Mar 28, 201212:22 am
    by trav


    Maybe he should bump his diet up to two croutons a week..

  • Mar 28, 201212:29 am
    by domnick


    i dont think not eating is an excuse… just because he doesn’t like the taste and so on.. that’s generally his fault…
    and with much more sense.. why do i risk waiting for another year to see him progress? thats gonna be his 4th year? and what happens if he doesn’t get to the expected level? i dont like the risks… lets just trade him out of here!

  • Mar 28, 20126:47 am
    by Stuckey and Whoever


    I don’t under stand because everytime I watch Daye he looks slow and sluggish.  I thought losing weight would help one’s speed which is what he needs.  If he wants to be the poor man’s Kevin Durrant he needs to get a whole lot faster.  That’s KD does not gain weight when people question that he should.  There is no reason why, when he is at the top of the scoring leaders every year.  Don’t know if Daye would be better gaining weight or not.  But if he wants to play the 2 and 3 spot he needs to get a ton of  speed.  He needs to be in the D league not VM.

    • Mar 28, 20128:41 am
      by Tiko


      yea for real whats the point of Macklin being in the D league and not Daye?

    • Mar 28, 201211:38 am
      by rick77


      Cmon man you really believe the KD hasnt gained any weight since he joined the league? Daye has no excuse other than he thinks hes already has a NBA body. Key word “Thinks”. He should know he needs to gain about 20-30 pounds of muscle spread out his entire body. This obviously would require some weight lifting and the only lifting he looks like he does is lifting a video game controller. He is Darko before Darko was even Darko, “the human victory cigar” skinny as hell. Go eat something kid and maybe you could be as good as Joe thinks. I saw what Joe swa but just dont see it anymore. Poor mans version on KD/Dirk and in all honesty who could be mad about that? The problem is he hasnt gained any weight that makes him look like he could be a match up nightmare.

      • Mar 28, 20128:32 pm
        by Stuckey and Whoever


        Even with the weight KD has gained there has been discussion about him gaining more.  Dude is still skinny as can be.  That was my point and I said if HE WANTS to BE a poor mans KD.  He is not and no where near it.  He is a poor mans sub, meaning he don’t even play!  I don’t even know why he is on the roster.

  • Mar 28, 20127:39 am
    by swish22


      I can’t wait to hear Joe D tell us Charlie V had some serious ankle problems this year and we’re going to wait until next year to evaluate him because you just don’t let shooters like Charlie V go!   Granted I too believe the kid has some upside and can shoot but this is just an excuse!  Even in the games he shot the ball well he made a lot of really rookie type mistakes on a regular basis!  Some Pistons have many excuses and some just play through the tough times without looking for sympathy!!  Daye simply doesn’t fit on this roster.   If we had some big guys dominating inside he’d be a nice complementary piece possibly!  The fact is were incredibly weak down low and it opens up zero for the skinny man!  I don’t see much of a roster shake up by the GM.  Do you???      I think a packaged deal with Prince would work for me.  We need some HULK type of BULK! unless Vernon B Free MAcklin is unleashed of course!!

  • Mar 28, 20128:16 am
    by David


    My cardboard cut-out of Mateen Cleaves could contribute to this team more than Austin Daye ever will…

    • Mar 28, 20129:03 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      Hold up … you have a cardboard cutout of Mateen??? Where can one find such a thing?

  • Mar 28, 20129:47 am
    by MrBlockedShot


    I think this guy simply needs to grow and mature once and for all. I would bet he will never put enough weight on simply cos he’s not geneticaly prone to that. Did you see Garnett, Prince, Durant…put any significant weight on that skinny frames? I think in some cases is that easy, and Daye is one of those. But apart from the weight issue, do you believe this guy is not able to eat the proper food in the capital of Russia playing for a pro team? Is he kidding us? Not able to get the food by yourself in a ton of restaurants? Not able to ask the club for help or hire an assistant, dietist or chef for that? Come on…I’m not buying that. This guy has nothing but excuses for a dreadful season. But don’t missunderstand me, I have believed in Daye since we picked him and hopefully he proves me wrong.

  • Mar 28, 201211:25 am
    by Nick II


    I know this is an off subject,but I would like to know if the Pistons ever won the draft lottery?

  • Mar 28, 20122:18 pm
    by gtg


    Has Mike Abdenour checked Daye for giardiasis? The bug that causes it is endemic in St. Petersburg and shows up in a lot of other places in Russia. Daye has some of the symptoms.

  • [...] to .317 this season. His issues have been described as a crisis of confidence (or, alternately, a stomach bug of Russian origin – H/T commenter ZA!), so I hope he can get his mind right soon for the sake [...]

  • Mar 28, 20123:48 pm
    by Max


    Regarding the issue of whether Daye should put on weight, I do remember one interesting anecdote.  Larry Brown joined the Pacers as coach where they had been conditioning Rik Smits to put on weight for years because he couldn’t stay healthy.  Brown, reportedly, took one look at Smits and said he needed to lose weight and Smits went on to have his healthiest stretch of years where he played his best basketball.
    Personally, I’ve always thought Daye should be a power forward regardless of his weight.  If he can’t guard them, they can’t guard him.  His quickness and outside shot at power forward would be dangerous.  At small forward and shooting guard, the defenders are all quicker so he can’t put the ball on the floor and body him up so he can’t get separation on his shot.  Against power forwards, he’d be able to drive away around them and get enough room on the outside to shoot at will.  On defense, he’d be in huge trouble in the post but how many teams run post up action for their bigs these days.  Also, he has shown some ability to defend the pick and roll by using his arms to make the pass to the rolling big difficult.

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